Ray Winstone

Ray Winstone

Winstone at the London premiere for Noah in March 2014.
Born Raymond Andrew Winstone
(1957-02-19) 19 February 1957
Homerton, Hackney, London, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Occupation Actor
Years active 1976–present
Spouse(s) Elaine Winstone (1979–present)
Children 3 (including Lois and Jaime)

Raymond Andrew "Ray" Winstone (/ˈwɪnstən/;[1] born 19 February 1957) is an English film and television actor. He is mostly known for his "hard man" roles, beginning with his role as Carlin in the 1979 film Scum and Will Scarlet in the television series Robin of Sherwood. He has also become well known as a voice over actor, and has recently branched out into film production. He has appeared in films such as Cold Mountain, Nil By Mouth, King Arthur, The Magic Roundabout, The Departed, Beowulf, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Edge of Darkness, The Sweeney and Noah.

Early life

Winstone was born in Homerton, Hackney, London.[2] Winstone moved to Enfield when he was seven, and grew up on a council estate just off the A10 road. His father, Raymond J. Winstone (1933-2015), ran a fruit and vegetable business,[3] while his mother, Margaret (née Richardson; 1932-1985),[4] had a job emptying fruit machines. Winstone recalls playing with his friends on bomb sites (vacant lots with rubble from WW II bombs), until "Moors Murderers" Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were arrested for killing three children. Ray joined Brimsdown Primary School and then he was educated at Edmonton County School, which had changed from a grammar school to a comprehensive upon his arrival. He also attended Corona Theatre School. He did not take to school, eventually leaving with a single CSE (Grade 2) in Drama.

Winstone had an early affinity for acting; his father would take him to the cinema every Wednesday afternoon. Later, he viewed Albert Finney in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, and said: "I thought, 'I could be that geezer'." Other major influences included John Wayne, James Cagney, and Edward G. Robinson. After borrowing extra tuition money from a friend's mother, a drama teacher, Winstone took to the stage, appearing as a Cockney newspaper seller in a production of Emil and the Detectives.

Winstone was also a fan of boxing. Known to his friends as Winnie, he was called Little Sugs at home (his father already being known as Sugar, after Sugar Ray Robinson). At the age of 12, Winstone joined the famous Repton Amateur Boxing Club. Over the next 10 years, won 80 out of 88 bouts. At welterweight, he was London schoolboy champion on three occasions, fighting twice for England. The experience gave him a perspective on his later career: "If you can get in a ring with 2,000 people watching and be smacked around by another guy, then walking onstage isn't hard."[5]


Deciding to pursue drama, Winstone enrolled at the Corona Stage Academy in Hammersmith. At £900 a term, it was expensive, considering the average wage was then about £36 a week.

He landed his first major role in What a Crazy World at the Theatre Royal, Stratford, London, but he danced and sang badly, leading his usually supportive father to say "Give it up, while you're ahead." One of his first TV appearances came in the 1976 "Loving Arms" episode of the popular police series The Sweeney where he was credited as "Raymond Winstone" and played a minor part as an unnamed young thug.

Winstone was not popular with the establishment at his secondary school, who considered him a bad influence. After some 12 months, he found that he was the only pupil not invited to the Christmas party and decided to take revenge for this slight. Hammering some pins through a piece of wood, he placed it under the wheel of his headmistress's car and blew out the tyre. For this, he was expelled. As a joke, he went up to the BBC, where his schoolmates were involved in an audition, and got one of his own by flirting with the secretary. The audition was for one of the most notorious plays in history – Alan Clarke's Scum – and, because Clarke liked Winstone's cocky, aggressive boxer's walk, he got the part, even though it had been written for a Glaswegian. The play, written by Roy Minton and directed by Clarke, was a brutal depiction of a young offender's institution. Winstone was cast in the leading role of Carlin, a young offender who struggles against both his captors and his fellow cons to become the "Daddy" of the institution. Hard hitting and often violent (particularly during the infamous "billiards" scene in which Carlin uses two billiard balls stuffed in a sock to beat one of his fellow inmates over the head) the play was judged unsuitable for broadcast by the BBC, and was not shown until 1991. The banned television play was entirely re-filmed in 1979 for cinematic release with many of the original actors playing the same roles. In a recent director's commentary for the Scum DVD, Winstone cites Clarke as a major influence on his career, and laments the director's death in 1990 from cancer.

Winstone's role in Scum seems to have set a mould for many of his other parts; he is frequently cast as a tough or violent man. He has also been cast against type, however, in films in which he reveals a softer side. He had a comedy part in Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence, and played the romantic lead in Fanny and Elvis. His favourite role was in the television biographical film on the life of England's most notorious monarch, King Henry VIII, in which he played the title role.

Television and film

After a short run in the TV series Fox, and a role in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (alongside Diane Lane, Laura Dern and a host of real life punks like Fee Waybill, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Paul Simonon), Winstone got another big break, being cast as Will Scarlet in Robin of Sherwood. He proved immensely popular and enjoyed the role, considering Scarlet to be "the first football hooligan" – though he was not fond of the dubbed German version, in which he said he sounded like a "psychotic mincer." But once the show was over, the parts dried up. He got involved in co-producing Tank Malling, starring Jason Connery, Amanda Donohoe and Maria Whittaker, and scored a few TV parts. Over the years, he's appeared in TV shows including The Sweeney, The Bill, Boon, Fairly Secret Army (as Stubby Collins), Ever Decreasing Circles, One Foot in the Grave, Murder Most Horrid, Birds of a Feather, Minder, Kavanagh QC, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Get-back (with the fledgling Kate Winslet). During this period, he was increasingly drawn to the theatre, playing in Hinkemann in 1988, Some Voices in 1994 and Dealer's Choice and Pale Horse the following year.

Winstone was asked to appear in Mr Thomas, a play written by his friend and fellow Londoner Kathy Burke. The reviews were good, and led to Winstone being cast, alongside Burke, in Gary Oldman's drama Nil By Mouth. He was widely lauded for his performance as an alcoholic wife-batterer, receiving a BAFTA nomination (17 years after his Best Newcomer award for That Summer). He continued to play "tough guy" roles in the likes of Face and The War Zone – the latter especially controversial, as he played a man who rapes his own daughter – but that obvious toughness would also allow him to play loved up nice-guys in romantic comedies like Fanny and Elvis and There's Only One Jimmy Grimble. In Last Christmas, he played a dead man, now a trainee angel, who returns from Heaven to help his young son cope with his bereavement, written by Tony Grounds, with whom Winstone worked again on Births, Marriages & Deaths and Our Boy, the latter winning him the Royal Television Society Best Actor Award. They worked together again in 2006 on All in the Game where Winstone portrayed a football manager. He did a series of Holsten Pils advertisements where he played upon the phrase "Who's the Daddy", coined in the film Scum.

In 2000, Winstone starred alongside Jude Law in the hit cult film Love, Honour and Obey, then won the lead role in Sexy Beast that brought him great acclaim from UK and international audiences, and brought him to the attention of the American film industry. Winstone plays "Gal" Dove, a retired and happily married former thief dragged back into London's underworld by a psychopathic former associate (Ben Kingsley, who received an Oscar nomination for his performance).

After a brief role alongside Burke again in the tragi-comic The Martins, he appeared in Last Orders, where he starred alongside Michael Caine, Helen Mirren, David Hemmings and Tom Courtenay.

Next Winstone would get a prime part in Ripley's Game, the sequel to The Talented Mr. Ripley, in which he once again played a gangster. He followed up with Lenny Blue, the sequel to Tough Love, and the short The Bouncer.

In 2000, he starred in To the Green Fields Beyond at the Donmar Warehouse (directed by Sam Mendes, the man behind American Beauty). In 2002, he performed at the Royal Court as Griffin in The Night Heron. Two years later, he joined Kevin Spacey for 24 Hour Plays at the Old Vic, a series of productions that were written, rehearsed and performed in a single day. Now internationally known, Winstone was next chosen by Anthony Minghella to play Teague, a sinister Home Guard boss, in the American Civil War drama Cold Mountain.

Perhaps inspired by Burke and Oldman, Winstone has now decided to direct and produce his own films, setting up Size 9 and Flicks production companies with his longtime agent Michael Wiggs. The first effort was She's Gone, in which he plays a businessman whose young daughter disappears in Istanbul (filming was held up by unrest in the Middle East). He followed it up with Jerusalem, in which he played poet and visionary William Blake.

Winstone made his action film debut in King Arthur, starring Clive Owen, directed by Antoine Fuqua, and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. In that film, Fuqua proclaimed him as "the British De Niro." He then provided the voice of Soldier Sam in the screen version of The Magic Roundabout.

In 2005, he appeared opposite Suranne Jones in ITV drama Vincent about a team of private detectives. He returned to the role in 2006 and was awarded an International Emmy. He also portrayed a 19th-century English policeman trying to tame the Australian outback in The Proposition. A complete change of pace for Winstone was providing the voice for the cheeky-chappy Mr. Beaver in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, also in 2005. Winstone appeared in Martin Scorsese's 2006 film The Departed as Mr. French, an enforcer to Jack Nicholson's mob boss. He provided motion capture movements and voice-over work for the title character in the Robert Zemeckis' film Beowulf. He then co-starred in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which was released on 22 May 2008. He returned to television drama in The Changeling inspired Compulsion, originally shown in May 2009.

He next starred as Arjan van Diemen in the film Tracker with Temuera Morrison. Filmed in New Zealand, Tracker, which tells the story of an Afrikaner commando leader who emigrates to New Zealand after the Second Boer War, was premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. He also appeared in 44 Inch Chest alongside John Hurt and Ian McShane.[6] He also had a role as CIA agent Darius Jedburgh in the Edge of Darkness remake, replacing Robert De Niro.[7] In 2012 he played the role of Detective Inspector Jack Regan in a remake of The Sweeney. Winstone stars also in the slasher-thriller film Red Snow, directed by Stuart St. Paul and based on a short film by Adam Mason.[8]

In 2011, Winstone starred in the British independent film The Hot Potato, a comedy thriller about two men who come into possession of a lump of uranium. The film, which is set in the East End of London in the 1960s, also stars Winstone's eldest daughter Lois Winstone, Jack Huston, Colm Meaney and David Harewood.

In April 2013, while a guest host of the comedy quiz show Have I Got News for You, he provoked controversy by stating that Scotland's chief exports were "oil, whisky, tartan and tramps", leading to a headline in The Scotsman claiming "Ray Winstone calls Scots 'tramps' on TV quiz show". Viewers complained to Ofcom and the BBC.[9] In 2015, he played the role of ex-criminal Jimmy Rose in The Trials of Jimmy Rose, a 3-part drama for ITV.

Personal life

Winstone met his wife, Elaine, while filming That Summer in 1979. They have three daughters; the eldest two, Lois and Jaime, are both actresses. Winstone lives with his wife in Roydon, Essex. He is an avid fan of West Ham United and promoted their 2009 home kit.[10] Winstone was declared bankrupt on 4 October 1988[11] and again on 19 March 1993.[12]


Year Title Role Notes
1976 The Sweeney
1977 Scum Carlin
1979 That Summer Steve Brodie Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer
1979 Scum Carlin
1979 Quadrophenia Kevin Herriot
1981 Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains Billy
1983 Ninety Percent Proof, Bergerac Tully
1983 Auf Wiedersehen, Pet Colin TV series (1 episode)
1984 Robin of Sherwood Will Scarlet TV movie
1989 Tank Malling John 'Tank' Malling
1994 Ladybird, Ladybird Simon
1996 One Foot in the Grave Vagrant/Millichope Christmas Special
1997 Nil by Mouth Ray British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
1997 Face Dave
1997 Our Boy Woody Williamson TV movie
1998 Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence Pederesen
1998 Final Cut Ray
1998 Brand New World Colonel
1999 Darkness Falls John Barrett
1999 The War Zone Dad Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – European Film Award for Best Actor
1999 Births, Marriages and Deaths Alan Series
Nominated – BAFTA TV Award for Best Drama Serial
1999 Tube Tales Father Segment: "My Father the Liar"
2000 There's Only One Jimmy Grimble Harry
2000 Sexy Beast Gary 'Gal' Dove Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Jameson People's Choice Award for Best European Actor
2000 Tough Love DC Lenny Milton 2 episodes
2000 Love, Honour and Obey Ray Kreed
2001 Last Orders Vince 'Vincey' Dodds Nominated – European Film Award for Best Actor (shared with Michael Caine, Tom Courtenay, David Hemmings and Bob Hoskins)
2001 The Martins Mr. Marvel
2002 Ripley's Game Reeves
2002 Lenny Blue DC Lenny Milton 2 episodes
2003 Henry VIII Henry VIII TV movie
2003 Cold Mountain Teague
2004 Everything Richard
2004 King Arthur Bors
2004 She's Gone Harry Sands TV movie
2005 The Proposition Captain Stanley San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Australian Film Institute Award for Best Lead Actor
2005 The Magic Roundabout Soldier Sam (voice)
2005 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Mr. Beaver (voice)
2005 Vincent Vincent Gallagher TV movie
International Emmy Award for Best Actor
2006 Sweeney Todd Sweeney Todd TV movie
2006 All in the Game Frankie TV movie
2006 The Departed Arnold/Mr. French
2006 Breaking and Entering Bruno Fella
2007 Beowulf Beowulf
2008 Fool's Gold Moe Fitch
2008 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull George "Mac" McHale
2008 Compulsion Don Flowers
2009 The Devil's Tomb Blakely
2009 44 Inch Chest Colin Diamond
2009 Fathers of Girls Frank Horner
2010 Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll William Dury
2010 Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Ares Uncredited
2010 Edge of Darkness Matthew Jedburgh
2010 13 Ronald Lynn
2010 London Boulevard Gant
2010 Tracker Arjan van Diemen
2010 Ben Hur Quintus Arrius TV miniseries
2011 Killzone 3 Admiral Orlock (voice) Video game
Also motion capture
2011 Rango Bad Bill (voice)
2011 Hugo Uncle Claude
2011 The Hot Potato Kenny Smith
2011 Great Expectations Abel Magwitch TV series
2012 Elfie Hopkins Butcher Bryn Cameo role
2012 Snow White and the Huntsman Gort Head only
2012 The Sweeney Jack Regan
2012 Run for Your Wife Cameo role Uncredited
2012 Ashes Frank
2014 Lords of London Terry Lord aka Lost in Italy
2014 Moonfleet Elzevir Block TV miniseries
2014 Noah Tubal-cain
2015 The Gunman Stanley
2015 The Legend of Barney Thomson Holdall
2015 Point Break Angelo Pappas
2015 The Trials of Jimmy Rose Jimmy Rose TV series
2015 Zipper Nigel Coaker
2016 Of Kings and Prophets Saul TV series


External links

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